If you're not from Yorkshire you've probably never heard of Bettys - unless you've been to York and seen the humongous queue outside this cafe. I say cafe, it's rather a LOT more than just a humble caf! Floor to ceiling curved glass windows, silver tea sets, white china, grand piano and waitors/waitresses immaculately turned out. It's a little piece of luxury even on a rainy day. This is the place I fell in love with tea.
Bettys was founded by a Swiss gentleman, Frederic Belmont, in 1919. He was a baker and confectioner through his teens in apprenticeships across Europe after losing both of his parents at a young age. He finally made his way to England (huzzah!), and up to Yorkshire after he lost the address he was supposed to go to and all he could remember was that it sounded like 'Bratwurst', he was heading to Bradford. Extraneous details aside he ended up opening a cafe in York, based upon the Queen Mary cruise liner, which was frequented by the Canadian 'Bomber Boys' (RAF) stationed in and around York during the Second World War. There are some brilliant photos downstairs of the Boys in the cafe!
And so to the food. There are distinct Swiss elements to many of the dishes in the menu: Rostis, lots of Gruyere, bacon. Nom. It's all delicious. There are full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus available all day and the place is open 'til 9pm too. Cream teas and no ordinary cake trolley are also available if you're going for a quick 'in and out'.
I went with the full afternoon tea though i've never managed to finish one (small stomach). Sandwiches, scone with jam and clotted cream and a plate of teeny miniature cakes on top. All served with a pot of Bettys house blend tea. There are 4 quarters of sandwiches: smoked salmon, egg and cress, yorkshire ham and roast chicken, though they are very happy to exchange one if you are allergic to egg or fish with another one. No salmon for me, take the extra ham - it's delicious.
In my opinion, these are the best scones around, they aren't too big nor are they too crumbly. Utterly delicious, you just have to figure out whether you're a cream or jam on first kinda guy/gal!
The small cakes on top were a mini lemon drizzle loaf - they must have adorable teeny loaf tins. A fruit tart with a proper creme patisserie and fresh fruit. A chocolate and coffee mini layer cake, which was beautifully constructed, was just one bite too far for me!
My dining guests (Dad and Mr TF) both had prawn and avocado open sandwiches on toasted sourdough and shared a bowl of chips which I can tell were at least twice fried for extra crispiness! Delcious. All of this plus a large mocha and a french press of Java came to £40. We put each of our debit cards into a hat, gave it a shake and asked the waitress to pull out a card to be the dutiful payor of the bill. Dad 'won', thanks for lunch.
The food is always exceptional here, I have never ever had a single complaint for Bettys and leave a happy customer each time. Bettys has a shop adjacent to the cafe where you can take baked treats, chocolate, cookies and cakes home. They do the best pralines outside of Belgium. They also have the full arsenal of their coffee and teas which they are happy to grind to your need or seal in separate bags for you to keep fresh until opening the next bag.
Their main craft bakery is in Harrogate and you can order cakes or teatime treats online! Recently they have opened a cookery school aswell so you can learn how to make their signature dishes. Go and have a look and fall in love. http://www.bettys.co.uk/